Brian Billick, an assistant coach with the Vikings from 1992 to 1998 and who won a Super Bowl with the Baltimore Ravens in 2000 as a head coach, was the television analyst on the Vikings’ 35-10 loss to Carolina on Sunday, and he said he didn’t expect the game to be so lopsided.
“Obviously defensively, Carolina had their way with the front seven of the Minnesota Vikings,” Billick said. “They’re going to have to change fundamentally what their doing, possibly, because their front seven is not holding up against a good, physical front and run game like we saw in Carolina.
“Offensively, they brought [quarterback] Josh Freeman in to make a difference. It might be in a couple weeks, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we don’t see him this week against New York. … I think this is a good place for him, and I think he’ll have some success.”
Billick said quarterback Matt Cassel just didn’t look comfortable in the pocket.
“You know, he just couldn’t get anything done,” he said. “He’s all about timing, getting the ball out quick, [but he] didn’t have any opportunity today because they couldn’t stay on the field, for one, and Carolina was able to gobble up the clock.”
Billick said he believes Carolina is better than its 1-3 record coming into the game indicated, and that proved to be the case Sunday. The Panthers offense was led by quarterback Cam Newton, who completed 20 of 26 passes for 242 yards and three touchdowns.
“[Newton has] great physical skills; he just has to show this kind of consistency going forward,” Billick said.
When asked if he remembers taking losses like these as a head coach, Billick didn’t hesitate in responding. “Oh gosh, yeah,” he said. “I’ve been on the tail end of enough of these. It’s painful.”
Billick still had positive things to say about the Vikings organization.
“I think they have a good future,” he said. “It’s a good, solid organization. They obviously have to decide on the direction quarterback-wise and probably need to reshuffle on the defense a little bit.”
Asked why Carolina dominated the Vikings on Sunday, defensive end Brian Robison said: “There’s nothing to figure out. They came in here and they whooped our tail. They didn’t do anything we didn’t expect. We didn’t expect to get whooped that bad.”
Was Newton the difference?
“Obviously he’s a heck of a player,” Robison said. “You see the things he can do out there today, but the bottom line is we didn’t play winning football today, and we have to get it figured out. That always has to be your thought process when you’re out there, that things are going to turn around. But you have to force things to turn around, and we didn’t do that today.”
Robison said it’s becoming repetitive, trying to figure out what’s wrong with the team’s defense, which was so solid last year.
“Seems like we come up with a new theory every week, but I don’t know, man,” he said. “We’re missing tackles. They’re finding the gaps. We have to make sure that we don’t allow those gaps to open up. We have to get back to fundamental defense. Everybody has to be in their gap and we have to make sure that we play winning football.”
How is this defense different from last year?
“We’re not playing good ball,” he said. “Mentally, we’re ready. We come out every week thinking that we’re going to do the things that we’ve always done, smash the run and get after the quarterback.”